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A stunning, deeply reported investigation into the housing crisis
Cities are the engines of economic progress and the places that give birth to ideas that shape our lives. For generations, arriving in a major city was the first step toward the American Dream. But as housing costs skyrocket in job-rich cities across the nation, that door to opportunity is swinging shut.
No place has felt this more acutely than the San Francisco Bay Area, where the mansions of tech billionaires stand streets away from encampments of cardboard. With riveting block-by-block reporting, New York Times reporter Conor Dougherty parses the history and economic forces that underlie the crisis from its epicenter. As rising rents and home prices have spread across the country, massive movements against single-family zoning and for tenants' rights have followed.
The potent forces of racism have long shaped the narrative of home ownership in this country. Today, as we grapple with that legacy, the crisis is deepened by globalization and made all the more pressing in the face of climate change. Despite its liberal reputation, the San Francisco Bay Area has for decades enacted and reinforced exclusionist housing policies that raise the cost of living and exacerbate inequality. When Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp, wanted to disrupt the rising housing costs in the Bay Area, he bypassed the traditional halls of power and instead met with the leader of SF BARF, the SF Bay Area Renters' Federation, Sonja Trauss. Indignant over the cost of living in our nation's great cities, Trauss represents a new generation of activists frustrated by a growing shortage of housing and demanding that neighborhoods make room for them. Dougherty follows Trauss, along with families trapped in the churn of barely making rent, a nun building a real estate empire to outmaneuver gauging landlords, and a city planner who suddenly envisions a different future, to tell the new story of housing.
Sweeping in scope and intimate in detail, Golden Gates definitively captures a fundamental political realignment in America as it plays out during a moment of rapid technological and social change.